How to Handle Toxic People at Work


Toxic people exist everywhere and sadly, they will continue to. Think about the lazy co-worker who is a master in the art of rambling, especially about how the country’s dwindling economy is making his work harder, the touchy neighbor who is legendary for creating chaos and seems to hate any semblance of peace, the needy friend who wants to involve you in all her drama, or the close relative who wears you out with his/her problem.

Just like a poison, toxic people can compromise and damage the vital temperaments you need to excel in your workplace or personal life­ if you let them. Below are 5 ways you can handle toxic people to make your work and personal life more productive.

1.      Set limits

Complainers and negative people are bad news just like the insurgency in the north. Why? Because they roll in their own problems and drag you into it without actively seeking any solution. A good way to deal with toxic people is to set limits and distance yourself.

You can offer to listen for five minutes so you won’t appear rude or callous, and then tell them you are overloaded with work. Think of it this way: If the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all day inhaling the second-hand smoke? I thought as much. So you get the picture!

2.      Try not to engage

Another way to handle toxic people is to limit interactions with them. Try not to offer advice from a personal standpoint because comparing their situations to what you have been through will only lead them on. You can simply say, “I’m sorry to hear that”. If you have a colleague who isn’t satisfied with work, try not to agree with her as there is the likelihood that this may lead her on.

3.      Get very busy

The truth is toxic people tend to visit more when they notice you don’t have much to do. Some will saunter by for a chitchat because they know you have nothing doing. A solution to handling toxic people? Get busy. Like right now.

4.      Create deterrent, if possible

If you happen to live in a house that has a door, close it more often. If however, you cannot do the above, get creative. Get an earpiece. This should deter some as it gives the impression that you can’t hear them. When handling toxic people, you should find ways to isolate yourself from them.

5.      Confront the problem

You should consider summoning courage to tackle the problem head-on if all the above doesn’t work. Sometimes, in dealing with toxic people, if all ‘diplomatic’ attempts fail, you may just have to tell such persons that you cannot listen to their issues anymore, explaining how it is becoming unwholesome for your work or personal life and why you are taking this step to let them know.

Some toxic people are highly gifted at not recognizing “No” as a complete sentence but the above tips should help you deal with them successfully.



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